OPINION

On EU supervision, know-how, capital flight, new ideas

Re: Eurogroup chief wants EU commissioner in Greece

Of course he does. The idea of the German tax volunteers went over so well now we will import commissioners.

Who is going to suggest supervisors for our health system, retirement funds, pension schemes, the Ministries of Labour, Interior, Tourism and Industry?

Let them all come in and run the show and clean house.

First we let go of our borders in the name of European unity and camaraderie. We signed agreements that saddled us with illegals we could neither afford to integrate in our society nor pay them an income to guarantee our social peace.

Then we did such a dismal job, we went begging for money to pay the debts and then went back for more to pay the interest on the previous debts while we accumulated so much we will never dig ourselves out from under it.

Now they have an opening. They will pretend to save us while they pay the banks on our behalf, we will say thank you and they tell us how corrupt we are so we need some of their experts to come in and find out exactly how much. The beat will go on and on.

I say none of this is necessary. It would be much cheaper if they unleash the power of the Interpol to locate the missing billions, bring them back and lock the guilty politicians behind bars for the rest of their lives.

Then bring in the IRS to rope in the business people who made billions and owe millions in taxes. Send them all in to the big house to join the politicians and keep them there till they pay the last penny they owe.

Get the sharpest tool in the Parliamentarian toolbox to lead an interim government that will revise the Constitution with the first job on the docket to cut the number of those in there to 150.

Align the politicians’ salaries and pensions to Greek reality and pass a law that no new hires in the public sector will be allowed for the next 5 years.

Simplify the laws that exist and cut the red tape so people will be encouraged to come in and invest in new businesses.

One does not need to be a rocket scientist to understand we are at a crossroads and the choices we make now will affect the lives of our children and grandchildren for years to come.

Monica Lane

Florida, USA

Re: Berlin’s choice

Being a German, our choice is to:

a) make more debts and give the money to Greece,

b) avoid more debts and try to consolidate oure own finances further.

And by the way, as I?m German, if a) is chosen I just have to live with the fact that as a German I?m not allowed to ask any Greek how they want to pay the money back (any doubts about that are an insult to the Greek president). It?s also an insult to make suggestions how to tackle e.g. the tax problems in Greece.

The best way is to give more money (more, because during the last 10 years Greece received far more money from the EU per person than Germany after the Second World War) and keep quiet.

That is really a hard decision!

Kian Schmidt

Berlin?s choice — but for what?

 

Nikos Xydakis might be right if he reminds Germany of historic times like the Weimar Republic or the help that was granted to Germany after WWII, but the question that comes to my mind always is what does Greece expect from Germany? What does Mr Xydakis expect? Put it right on the table: What exactly do you want? Give us a plan, a vision or a concept for a specific case. Tear down the bureaucratic hazards that would prevent this plan from becoming reality and ask for financial and administrative support.

No one will invest in Greece just because it?s Greece — forget about that!

Not even Greek MPs are investing their money in Greece, as we all know, so why should anyone else?

Around 6 months ago the German economy minister visited Greece with around 70 representatives of German companies. They discussed obstacles that companies are facing in Greece and what should be done to increase foreign investments. Also discussed was the founding of a credit institute that would work similar to the German KfW and which would help Greek companies a lot in dealing with the credit shortage which they are facing with private sector banks right now.

Now, 6 months later, as reported by German companies, almost none of the bureaucratic obstacles were improved or even touched and the KfW that was ready to support Greek authorities don?t even know who to speak with anymore since responsibilities are unclear and obviously there is no political will to get this done. Maybe it?s just bullying again from German politicians but it was Mr Roesler himself that mentioned these things on Tuesday.

So, Mr Papademos, grab your telephone and nail that guy down. Ask him to send administrative support and ask him to help with the capitalization of that KfW-like credit institute, but get it done fast.

It seems to me that you are demanding something from Germany that Germany has already offered.

It was Berlin?s choice to buy you time with rescue packages I + II. It was Athens?s choice to waste the first two years of this time with political games and not even halfway completed reforms.

It was Berlin?s choice to offer you additional help with knowledge, technocrats and even with the founding of a credit institute designed especially for the needs of small to medium-sized companies. It has been Athens?s choice not to take these offers so far.

It is the choice of the Greeks in which direction the country will go after the elections, but unfortunately none of the Greek parties has offered any clear and honest answers, concepts or visions of what they want to do after they get elected.

Sebastian Schroeder

Patra

Saying yes to outside assistance

Greek tax union officials have just sent a letter to the government saying that hard-working Greek tax officials did not want the help offered to the Greek Ministry of Finance by Germany. As is known, Germany had offered to send German tax specialists to Greece in order to help build up an efficient tax infrastructure.

At the same time, newspapers cited a report by the German ministry of economics stating that the growth campaign started during Minister Roesler’s last visit to Greece had stalled because of Greek inaction.

In March, in all likelihood, the EU will decide to enlarge the ESM financial help umbrella in order to construct a bigger firewall against possible domino effects in case of a Greek disorderly bankruptcy.

And then there will be Greek elections.

This means time is running out on Greece. Soon, fears of the consequences of a Greek bankruptcy will evaporate. As will the willingness to continue granting money to Athens.

It is one minute to midnight for Greece to reach for the last straw.

No time for inaction and vain pride.

Heinz Stiller

Switzerland

Re: Cigarette taxes

Raising taxes as a way for government to legislate behavior is another road to be paved with failure.

Alternate avenues will be pursued. Tobacco is much cheaper in neighboring countries. In Chios, for instance, one can take a round-trip ferry ride to Turkey for 8 euros and purchase 2 cartons of tobacco for 30 euros. The same purchase in Greece costs 80 euros.

Things like this almost always have unintended consequences which then require new rules and regulations which bring further unintended consequences. This suits people who want bigger government and so for them the consequences are not so unintended. What’s next, a new law banning Greek citizens from buying tobacco when they go abroad on trips? This will only encourage a black market, requiring further government interventions in people’s lives.

Let’s assume this isn’t a call for expanding government under the guise of altruism. If one truly feels this is important enough for the state to spend taxpayer money on, there’s no need to use the state’s typical weapons of force and coercion. Education of the young is a simpler and morally better choice.

How about we stop advocating government getting into people’s hair? Perhaps if we had smaller government in Greece we would not be in an economic crisis in the first place!

Peter Griffin

Respect and pride

I don?t know if anyone has noticed in Greece the fact that Mrs Merkel and Mr Juncker are travelling around the world to collect support (money) for the EFSF and ESM. They are not travelling to the US, Japan, Canada or Australia, no, they have to travel to China, Brazil, India and other so called «emerging nations.”

In China the big newspapers are already making fun of the Europeans, who cannot sort things out and are not willing to get down from their high horses.

It was Europe that continously reminded China about human rights and how important all this democracy thing is etc.

Now, we have to go there begging on our knees, asking people that work for 50 cents per hour to assemble our iPads to support us financially.

The Chinese papers are telling us to get lost since China already gave money to the US (and will never get it back, it seems).

How deep can we sink?

It is easy for Greeks to be sore about some German bullying but it?s not Greek politicians that have to knock the doors of the poor now to beg for support of the rich.

And to be honest, as a German and as a European, I feel ashamed that we were not able as a continent full of 1st world countries to get things straight the last 30 years. Greece may lose some of its sovereignty to Brussels or Berlin, but Europe as a whole is losing its sovereignty to countries that will maybe not be so patient and calm when payday comes.

Sebastian Schroeder

Patra

Re: ?Government to launch e-grocery store?

Some initiatives are so weird one is at a loss.

The government has everything under control and each and every program they have been involved in produced such stellar results they are getting into the produce business?

First off, the poor and the elderly have no access to the internet to take advantage of the low prices. They are the ones who need low food prices the most.

Secondly, the 300,000 euros they found to spearhead such a program is not enough and will end up costing millions.

Thirdly, how many public sector employees will have to be hired to establish the web site and create the program?

Lastly why do they not leave the whole thing alone and let the people deal with it themselves.

Bartering is at an all-time high, and for obvious reasons.

Government will make a hash of a good idea and the further away they stay the better everyone will be.

Monica Lane

Florida, USA

Berlin’s choice should be Athens choice

Again, the responsibility for solving the economic problems of Greece is given to the outside world in the article of Mr. Xydakis. But this responsibility is a Greek one. There is much still much willingness in countries like Germany and the Netherlands to help Greece. But only if there is trust that money for development will be spent well. As long as nearly nothing is done against corruption and ?rousfeti? and stupid bureaucracy, no west European government can afford to invest in Greece. This would be political suicide because citizens in their countries are now very well informed about how Greek politics and Greek society function (often malfunction).

Jo Kloporgge

We realized this now?!

How many businesses, how many Greeks from the diaspora who came and invested here, and ended up being entangled, blackmailed and eventually brought to despair and broke, packed up and left, due to this corruption and bureaucracy? In other countries politicians and civil servants go to jail; here, people kiss their hands in the street sucking up in the hope their kids will be given a job in the corruption called the Greek state.

Lionel Luthor

Greek money in Swiss accounts

I don?t like seeing the Greek working class being ripped off by the Greek governments as an excuse to straighten the mismanagement of the country. So I suggest the Greek government, if they are serious about the situation and not just voicing the subject for television and votes, commandeer by law the Greek banked money in Swiss banks, pay off their debts, then pay back the commandeered money plus interest to anybody who has legal claim to it minus unpaid tax. Easy, and I haven?t got a degree. 

Robert Tracy

How such a huge crisis in Greece went unnoticed

Is it just hard to believe? Everyone knew how corrupt Greece’s state mechanisms were, how corrupt the politicians were, how bureaucracy basically drowned all business and any FDI, so why was it left till utter collapse to stop or tackle?

It just beggars belief that the EU/US did not know how utterly and brutally incompetent Greek politicians were, and still are.

A 16-year-old can see it! Greek politicians are just plain and simply short-minded, incompetent, corrupt lackeys!

They’re experts at blabbing and lying about everything under the sun, except what they’re paid to do and say!

Lionel Luthor

The sleeping beauty

We have always loved Greece and its people and our hearts break when we see what is going on.

When I read Nikos Konstandaras?s articles (in English, my Greek isn’t good enough) I just feel he always says the right thing at the right time in a way that is convincing. I hope he will be heard.

I don’t believe the solutions are in the hands of Europe or the state. The middle and lower classes are crushed by despair and fight for survival. What about the elite? Why don’t those who have money and those who have ideas get together and take initiatives and launch nonconventional projects?

It is necessary to shortcut the corrupted politicians and the ailing administration. After all it is the responsibility of the elite, it’s their job to act, without considering their own interest for once.

What can the ordinary people do? They just try to live and sink in total despair.

I have always admired the Greeks? ability to adapt and improvise; I hope  that local, national or international (through the diaspora) initiatives will flourish. It’s high time that the elite woke up. Isn’t euergetism a Greek word?

Anne de Neuville

Paris

The profile of the Greek politician, journalist and public servant

Not all, of course, but a very large number of politicians, journalists and public administration workers in Greece are:

Very corrupt.

Very greedy.

Very indifferent.

Very unprofessional.

Very selfish.

Very evil.

Very medieval.

Very arrogant.

Very egotistical.

Very narcissistic.

Very dangerous.

Very anti-Greek.

Very anti-Greece.

And these characters govern the country?

Mersini Lucas